It began with the Danish cartoons. It ended with the flying imams. Two thousand six was a banner year for the Religion of Perpetual Outrage. Twelve turbulent months of fist-waving, embassy-burning, fatwa-issuing mayhem, intimidation, and murder resounded with the ululations of the aggrieved. All this in the name of defending Islam from "insult." Let's review.
In late January, masked Palestinian gunmen took over a European Union office in Gaza City to protest the publication of a dozen cartoons about Islam, Mohammed, and self-censorship in the Danish newspaper the Jyllands-Posten. They stormed the building, burned Danish flags, and spearheaded an international boycott of Denmark's products across the Muslim world.
The rage was manufactured pretext. The cartoons had been published four months earlier with little fanfare. It wasn't until a delegation of instigating Danish imams toured Egypt with the cartoons -- plus a few inflammatory fake ones, including an old image of a French hog-calling contest participant deceptively portrayed as "anti-Muslim" -- that the fire started burning. Think the mainstream media will remember that? Not likely. They fell for the ruse and were slow to acknowledge it after American bloggers and Danish television exposed the scheme.
What was really behind Cartoon Rage? Muslim bullies were attempting to pressure Denmark over the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for continuing with its nuclear research program. The chairmanship of the council was passing to Denmark at the time.
Alas, Western journalists, analysts, and apologists were too clouded by their cowardice and conciliation to see through the smoke. More than 800 were injured in the ensuing riots, and 130 people paid with their lives. The innocents included Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro, who was shot to death in Turkey on Feb. 5, by a teenage boy enraged by the illustrations. The Muslim gunman shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" as he murdered Father Santoro while the priest knelt praying in his church. Several brave moderate Muslim editors who stood up to the madness were jailed, fined, and convicted of crimes related to insulting Islam. The Danish cartoonists remain in hiding.